How To Minimize Medical Care Costs

Our Guide To Cutting Down Medical Care Costs

Medical care costs can take up a lot of space in a budget. Bills for doctor appointments, medications, insurance, emergency room visits and referrals to specialists all add up! Thankfully, there are ways to reduce these costs, and make a little more room in your budget. 

  1. Minimize prescription costs. The options for reducing medication costs are long. You can use online or manufacturer coupons, found through websites like GoodRx. You can schedule your prescriptions to be picked up on the same day, to reduce trips to the pharmacy. You can also switch to mail-order for maintenance medications, which usually comes with a discount and extended supply. You can ask your doctor about less expensive medications, and double-check you’re only taking what you need. Shenandoah Community Health Clinic offers a prescription drug program that allows qualifying patients to receive their prescriptions at a free or reduced cost. 
  2. Utilize a Healthcare Savings Account (HSA). A HSA or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is an account that collects interest on pre-taxed money. This money is specifically set aside for healthcare expenses. Often, employers will sponsor one, but you can also get an account on your own. This allows you to have money set aside for any healthcare event, and that money is tax-free or tax-reduced.
  3. Utilize your healthcare plan benefits. Many insurance plans offer yearly benefits that are often free. These benefits can include yearly physicals, medical screenings, dental cleaning, or other discounted services. Ask about what your plan offers and make sure you’re taking advantage of any services you can.
  4. Choose in-network and outpatient care. Many insurance plans have a list of “in-network” providers. These are medical providers that receive greater coverage from your insurance company, so visits with these providers are usually much cheaper than out-of-network. When you’re looking into a procedure or surgery, ask about your outpatient care options. Undergoing these procedures in an outpatient office is less expensive than completing them in a hospital. Additionally, you’ll be limiting hospital visits to true emergencies. If it’s possible for you to receive care at a doctors office or urgent-care, you will save a lot of money.
  5. Take care of your health. This can look different for everyone. We all know the basics- eat healthy, exercise, drink water. It’s also important to manage any medicines you take. This looks like taking them regularly, on time, and ensuring they’re working. Seek preventative care, addressing health issues before their cost gets too big.

10 Foods that Help Ease Arthritis Pain

If you’re struggling with arthritis pain, eating certain foods that are high in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties may help. Adding these 10 simple foods to your diet can make a big difference.

Fuel up on Fish: Certain types of fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are inflammation-fighting and can thus reduce the likelihood of arthritis pain. Doctors recommend 3 to 4 ounces of fish, twice a week, including salmon, tuna, and herring.

Say Yes to Soy: Not a fan of fish but want that same results? Try heart-healthy soybeans. Soybeans are low in fat, high in protein and fiber.

Opt for Oils: Extra virgin olive oil, avocado, and safflower oils have shown to have a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 acids.

Check out Cherries: Cherries help reduce the frequency of gout attacks. Cherries have been found to have highly effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. As a result, cherries can relieve arthritis pain and inflammation.

Don’t Ditch the Dairy: Low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are packed with calcium and vitamin D, both found to increase bone strength. If dairy doesn’t agree with you, try other calcium and vitamin D-rich foods like leafy green vegetables.

Go Green (Tea): Green tea is packed with nutrients and antioxidants that have the ability to reduce inflammation and the arthritis pain that can result.

Buy those Berries: Berries are rich in antioxidants. The Arthritis Foundation notes that blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, and boysenberries all provide arthritis-fighting power.

Grab the Garlic: Because garlic contains diallyl disulfide, an anti-inflammatory compound that limits the effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines, garlic helps fight inflammation.

Nibble on Nuts: Nuts are rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, and immune-boosting alpha-linolenic acid. Nuts are also heart-healthy and beneficial for weight loss. Try walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, and pistachios.

Try that Turmeric: Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory, that also prevents heart disease, keeps your blood vessels healthy, and helps maintain joint health. Add a teaspoon to your favorite dish daily to help boost your immunity and help those joints stay strong. Tumeric capsules are also an easy way to get a daily dose.

A healthy diet and incorporating foods like those above can make a big difference in your ability to live a healthy and active life. Call your doctor or Shenandoah Community Health Clinic for more tips on keeping arthritis pain under control.

Sources:

Best Spices for Arthritis | Arthritis Foundation

The Health Benefits of Berries – Living With Arthritis

Health Benefits of Walnuts – Living With Arthritis

World Immunization Week: Vaccines Bring Us Closer

This week has been designated to bring awareness to the need for vaccines. Using the theme “Vaccines Bring Us Closer”, the World Health Organization is focusing on the good vaccines have done in our communities and the good the Covid vaccine can do to bring us back together and to some normalcy.

We’ve seen over 30 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and over 500,000 deaths. By working hard and working together, the scientists, researchers, medical experts, and members of the FDA were able to share more information and streamline the approval process for the Covid vaccines. Now, there are vaccines that have proven to be safe and effective in every trial and every review. This vaccine has more intense safety monitoring than any vaccine in US history!

Almost nobody has died as a direct result of the Covid vaccine, as compared to over 3 million people in the world who have died from Covid.

Of course, there are hesitations when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. These concerns are valid, everyone has a right to be aware of what is going in their body. Thankfully, these vaccine trials have been conducted with full transparency, under the supervision of America’s leading experts. While there is a lot of misinformation circulating in social media and elsewhere, there is factual info at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety.html

The FDA and a safety review board has granted emergency use of Moderna and Pfizer. At this writing, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is under review for a rare side effect that occurs in less than one in 1 million people – lower odds than being struck by lightening!

The chance of having severe side effects from the vaccine is only about 0.5%. The FDA also has a vaccine monitoring system, where people can report poor reactions to immunizations. This allows us to continuously monitor the safety of vaccines. Additionally, data will continue to be collected for two years after vaccine administration, to guarantee long term safety. There is the likelihood of mild side effects such as slight fever or body aches, but this is just a sign that your body is building up protection.

Through these vaccines we are getting closer to returning to normal while keeping our friends and family safe. The death rate is starting to fall as more and more people get vaccinated. We will be able to repair the economic and emotional damage caused by lockdowns, prevent sickness and death to ourselves and loved ones, and move towards a COVID-19 free world. However, most people need to be vaccinated to prevent future surges of the illness. Every unvaccinated person has a chance of not only getting the disease, but also giving the disease more chances to mutate into a stronger variant that can kill more people.

Every person over the age of 16 is eligible now to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. If you have questions about the safety or efficacy of vaccines, speak with your doctor. Shenandoah Community Health Clinic, as well as other health agencies, have the Covid vaccine and want to help you protect yourselves, your family and our community.  Call our Clinic at 540-459-1700 if you’d like to schedule a free vaccination.

Your Furry Friend Provides Health Benefits to You

Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend” but sometimes we’re unaware of the mental and physical health benefits that our pets provide.

Pets have evolved along with humans. They are acutely aware and in-tune with our behaviors and emotions. Dogs, for example, can understand certain phrases, body language and even gestures and will try to gauge your emotional state. Petting a cat can be very calming and that can be a big stress reducer.

More Ways Animals Provide Health Benefits

Studies have shown that:

  • Pets help you be more active. Pets give us a reason to get outside, get some fresh air and get in some physical activity.
  • Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
  • Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without.
  • Pets combat loneliness. The bond with pets helps people feel less alone. Owners can touch, see, hear or talk to their companion animals and that helps to bring happiness to both pets and people.
  • Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
  • People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets.

Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Adopting an animal also gives you the opportunity to adopt healthy lifestyle changes including increased exercise, companionship, and reduced anxiety. Caring for a live animal can make you feel loved and wanted, and help take the focus away from your problems, especially if you live alone. Many pets, especially dogs, require physical exercise and regularly scheduled feedings. Your health will benefit if you have a consistent routine which keeps you and your pet calm and happy.

Make New Friends

Pets can be a great introduction to a new group of friends. Pet owners frequently stop and talk to each other at the dog park or on walks. Special interest pet groups, clubs or training classes are ways to meet more pet owners and share your mutual interest.

Reduce Anxiety and Stress

Pets have a way of making us more appreciative and mindful. Because they live in the moment, animals do not worry about what happened in the past or what tomorrow might bring. Our interactions with them reduce our stress and bring joy to our lives.

Ready to find your furr-ever friend? Contact your local SPCA today and bring home more pet-sponsored health benefits!

Benefits of Gardening for Your Mental Health

Those that love to garden, know that spending time amongst the petals provides numerous mental health benefits such as reducing stress, becoming closer to nature and enjoying peaceful, alone time. Let’s explore what makes gardening so healing.

Promotes exercise

Gardening is a great way to get exercise. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins into your brain. Endorphins are chemicals produced by your body to relieve stress and pain. Even though gardening sometimes feels more like a chore than a fun activity, gardening has a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing.

Goodbye technology

Let’s face it- we spend too much time on our cellphones, in front of the TV or computer. Activities such as gardening is a great escape from constant screen time. There’s nothing quite like checking an item off your to-do list to make you feel accomplished.

Encourages healthy eating

Gardening has many benefits, including growing your own produce. Research suggests that those who grow their own food are more aware of the health benefits of eating from their own gardens. Growing your own produce is a healthy way of living life. Food grown in our own backyards encourages us to eat better because it’s fresh and we know that a lot of TLC went into producing what’s on our plates.

Improves mood and decreases stress

It’s a proven fact that sunlight improves our mood. Working productively in the garden increases serotonin levels, causing you to be happier throughout the day and improving your mental health overall. Gardening also can improve your mood, bring out your creativity and spark innovation. Getting your hands dirty in the soil, specifically soil bacterium, mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of serotonin, a natural antidepressant.

Improves concentration

People who garden tend to have longer attention spans. Gardening can have long-lasting impacts on our mood in a positive way. If you’re the type of person who has anxiety or depression, research shows that working in your garden on a regular basis can reduce triggers, as the activity leads to fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment.

Fresh air, exercise, sunshine, creativity and peaceful time alone — and more — make gardening a fun hobby that also improves your mental health. So what are you waiting for – go out and enjoy!

Building a Fairer, Healthier World

World Health Day, April 7, was started in 1950 to create awareness of priority concerns in world health. This year the World Health Organization has decided to focus on health equity, with a slogan, “Building a fairer, healthier world for everyone.”

This message is one that resonates deeply with the Shenandoah Community Health Clinic. This clinic was founded to bring affordable healthcare to an area that needed it. Originating in 2002, we provide services for behavioral health, dental health, and comprehensive medical care to the whole community, with special supports for low-income and underserved patients.

Building a fairer and healthier world is about removing barriers to care and improving conditions that affect health. Each person can contribute to this goal in different ways.

1. Become a patient and/or pass the word. If you need healthcare but struggle with affording it, consider becoming a patient at our clinic. If you know of someone who could use our services, please pass along our information.

2. Donate. There are many organizations working towards health equity using different methods. Find an organization you like and see how you can get involved.

3. Support your community. You can support local and state policies that reduce health inequity. Working within your own community might include supporting the establishment of a new public park or walking trails, or cooking healthy meals at church. Use your unique skills, interests, and relationships to increase health equity.

4. Get educated. The World Health Organization has an online database to compare health equity among countries. Health Equity Monitor (who.int) The American Public Health Association offers lots of information online about health equity and how it affects the United States. Health Equity (apha.org)

5. Share the health equity message. Talk to your children, friends and family about health equity and what it means.

Working together, we can all make our world fairer and healthier.

Routine Checkups Help Maintain Your Good Health

You’re feeling OK, so why get your routine checkup? Often when you are not feeling sick, it’s easy to push back a doctor’s appointment or skip it altogether. But continuing to get annual, and sometimes more frequent, screenings are important for maintaining good health.

As we age, our health needs change. As do our recommended health screenings. Checkups can detect problems early on, allowing more time for prevention and treatments.

The average person should see their doctor for a routine checkup at least once a year. However, if you have family history that includes health issues like cancer, or if you have a chronic disease like diabetes or hypertension, its likely you need to visit the doctor more frequently.

Preparing for your routine checkup can help you get the most out of your time with the doctor. This is the time to ask your doctor questions, notify them of any medical changes you have noticed and to address any concerns you may have.

To prepare for your annual checkup, follow these simple steps:

– Arrive early

– Know the names and doses of your medications you are currently taking, including any over-the-counter drugs. Most doctors prefer that you bring the bottles with you to assure their records are correct.

– Know your vaccine history and bring any hard copies of vaccine records you have

– Bring the dates of any recent procedures, screenings or tests you have had done since your last check-up

– Lastly, be open and honest with your doctor. Ask necessary questions but be open and honest with your responses.

Investing in a doctor’s visit can catch an issue early and could save your life. To quote George William Curtis, “Happiness lies first of all, in health.”

Check-in with your doctor about your health, goals and concerns today. To schedule a routine checkup, call the Shenandoah Community Health Clinic, 540-459-1700.

Colon Screening: A Life-Saving Tool to Find a Common and Treatable Type of Cancer

The colon is a vital part of the human body, but talking about colon screening can be uncomfortable. It’s a little awkward discussing bowel movements, and more awkward to provide a sample of one!

But much like middle school gym class, colon screenings are a necessary, albeit intimidating, part of life. The colon reflects how the rest of the body is functioning, and colon screenings in high risk populations can save lives.

Here are five reasons you should schedule a colon cancer screening.

1. Colon cancer is common in the United States. Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer in men and women, and the third leading cause of cancer related deaths. About 150,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with colon cancer in the United States this year. The good news is that early identification of cancer through a colon screening will increase the chances of survival by a lot. Early intervention has a five-year survival rate of 90%. Once the cancer has spread and grown to be more malignant, the five-year survival rate is about 10-20%.

2. Age is not just a number. Colon cancer is most common in older adults; about 90% of new cases are found in people 50 years of age and older. As adults reach ages 45-50, it’s important for them to discuss this with their doctor and schedule an initial colon screening.

3. Relevant Risks. Although most cases are in older adults, the rate is rising in young adults. Since 1994, colon cancer diagnoses have doubled in adults under age 50. This may correlate with the national rise in obesity, as diets low in nutrition and a lack of exercise increases risk of colon cancer. Alcohol consumption and tobacco use also increase the

risk of developing colon cancer. If you have a history of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s disease, or a family history of colon cancer, you should be screened before you reach age 50.

4. Digestive troubles. Symptoms of colon cancer may include blood in your stool, unintended weight loss, consistent stomach pain or changes in your bowel movements. Although these symptoms are not always related to cancer, you should discuss them with your doctor to determine the best course of action.

5. To thank your colon. Colons are hardworking organs. Colons help the digestive system function and help the body maintain homeostasis. They absorb water and minerals from digested food and then create waste from the stuff we don’t need. This 5-6 foot long tube helps to balance the bodies PH, and is always on the clock.

There are several options when it comes to colon screening. The test you get depends on your risk factors and comfort level. If you think you fall under any of the above high risk groups, schedule an appointment with your doctor or our Clinic to discuss your options. Remember that while it may be an awkward subject, colon screening can also be a life-saving one.

What Does Depression Look Like?

Depression is a mood disorder that millions of Americans suffer from each year. It is also the leading cause of disability in ages 15-44. Depression often presents as deep sadness, depleted energy, and suicidal thoughts. Sometimes it can be hard to identify depression, even in ourselves. Here are five lesser known symptoms that may indicate depression in you or a loved one.

 

● Sleep Disturbance. Changes or difficulty in sleeping patterns is a common symptom of depression. This could look like insomnia, difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. It can also look like oversleeping, or even both of these at different times.

● Apathy. Although depression can cause intense sadness, it can also cause feeling nothing at all. Many of those diagnosed with depression report feeling “blank” or numb. It may be hard to connect with displays of emotion, or hard to care about things you once found important or exciting. Loss of interest in hobbies and/or diminished sex drive are both strong indicators of this symptom.

● Difficulty in Concentrating. Some refer to this phenomenon as “depression brain”, and it feels like brain fog and struggles with memory recall. Depression may make it difficult to pay attention to forces outside of the body and brain, and can also impact short term memory.

● Anger. Increased irritability and displays of anger can also be symptoms of depression. This is especially more common in men, who may feel more comfortable displaying anger than sadness. This may look like frequent outbursts, even over seemingly small things.

● Change in Weight. Depression may cause an increase or decrease in weight, depending on the person. Some suffering from depression might find it difficult to eat, causing weight loss and further depleted energy levels. Some may find themselves eating more than usual, as a coping mechanism. Overeating and immobility from fatigue can cause weight gain.

This is not an exhaustive list of all symptoms of depression, but it can help determine a need for professional intervention. If you or a loved one is struggling with depression please call our office to set up an appointment.